Growing Montessori in Tanzania
The Madmen have been inspired by the work of Jacqueline Mwombeki of Tanzania. She has taken it upon herself to start a movement in Tanzania and bring awareness of Montessori to her country. We recently asked her to write a guest blog so that others around the world could likewise be inspired by her efforts. Her is her letter/blog:
Dear Mr. Eissler
My name is Jacqueline Mwombeki. I am from Tanzania, living on the shores of Lake Victoria, in the little town of Bukoba.
I am a Montessori diploma holder (AMI) and I run a small Teachers Training College.
I wanted to write to you to tell you how much grateful I am. I just happened to fall in love with your book “Montessori Madness”. What a book! So convincing! And the video cartoon; Oh my God!
For those, like me, who dream to see Montessori taking over globally it is a great support in promoting our faith. Your work comes to me at a time when our roads cross each other. It’s amazing coincidence.
I have been teaching for not less than 16 years, expecting the parents of Montessori children to come forward as you do, to be the ambassadors of the only scientific and non-violent education method ever invented. I thought they would promote it in view to have it adopted at national level.
But Tanzania is not America… As time passed, I came to realize that those parents, here, are too few to become a task force, although all of them appreciate greatly what their children have become.
I started thinking that I was wrong to wait for them. The responsibility to raise the Montessori flag lies in the hands of the teachers: They have been lectured at length, they have understood the whole concept, they have followed the methodology and are daily convinced of its effectiveness.
Then I came with the idea to put them on the move by going public. With a small group of enthusiastic freshly made teachers from our TTC, we broadcasted lectures, we organized seminars and called meetings to create public awareness. We started this last year but only into our region because our funds are limited (we live on donations). The outcome was surprisingly good! It immediately created a sort of revolution on how parents should educate their offspring spiritually and mentally, their attitudes towards their children, etc.
Now, here and there, lots of people talk positively about the method. It has reached the ears of officials and politicians. That encourages us to push it forward, to take it even further, at government level. We managed to distribute your book to the Ministry of Education in Tanzania. The minister himself has recently invited us to meet him on the issue. Let us see what will come next...
To organize this work we have formed a small NGO called MPC (Montessori Promotion Centre). We trace the few genuine Montessorians existing in the country to mobilize them. We are translating the Montessori Syllabus (for the 3 to 6) into Kiswahili and are designing lesson plans accordingly. We have modeled a Montessori classroom adapted to the poor village conditions. We travel to other schools to invite the management to come and sit, even half an hour, in our kindergarten and witness “the light in their eyes” as you say.
You are absolutely right: The education system we inherit really “stinks”. And even more when it is imported by third world countries without any cultural consideration. Most people are not aware that there are alternatives like the Montessori system. When we talk to them they make us feel guilty: “Does that exist? Can that be true? If you knew about it, why did you remain silent all this time?” So, for that reason, we won’t stop opening the gates! Thank you for having opened to us your personal life and your experience with Montessori. We share the same feelings and witness the same wonders every single day.
Yours, very cordially, praying God to bless you always, Jacqueline Mwombeki
The Montessori Madmen site has all sorts of links to articles, videos, books, etc. for promoting Montessori awareness. Please use these resources! Contact us if there is any way we can help assist your Montessori advocacy efforts anywhere in the world.